Volunteer Campaign for Russia 2018 kicks off with illustrious backing

A glimpse of the joy and team spirit exhibited by the individuals charged with making the Russian dream come true was witnessed today in Moscow and across all other host cities, as the volunteer campaign for the FIFA Confederations Cup and the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ officially got under way.

In a ceremony at Moscow’s famous VDNH complex that attracted more than 2,000 people, Russian President Vladimir Putin and FIFA President Gianni Infantino came together to announce that applications for volunteers were now being accepted on FIFA.com. They were joined by 2010 World Cup winner Carles Puyol, as well as former USSR goalkeeper Rinat Dasaev, who appeared three times on football’s greatest stage. Zvonimir Boban, the legendary ex-Croatia and AC Milan midfielder who was recently appointed FIFA’s Deputy Secretary General for Football, was also in attendance.

“The volunteer movement has already shown its importance to Russia during various international forums, tournaments and meetings. The FIFA World Cup is a huge event and being involved in the hosting of it is a massive honour,” said Russian President Vladimir Putin. “Every guest at the future World Cup must feel as if they're taking part in an actual celebration. I'm sure that they'll be able to do this with your help. I wish you good luck from the bottom of my heart!”

“Today we sense that the tournaments are drawing nearer, as we move from purely focusing on infrastructure to key operational elements such as the volunteers. There is one element which unites us all, whether we are players, coaches, fans or those who make the staging of the event possible: our passion for the game. To many fans the volunteers become THE face of the tournament. Their work will help build the event experience which will be brought home by thousands of fans from all over Russia and from across the globe, as well as by members of the media, football players and coaching staff,” said the FIFA President.

The quintet presented a football to a team of future volunteers, thus symbolising the unifying force of the game and of volunteering. The football legends also interacted with various Russia 2018 host cities, where the campaign has also been launched, via a live video link.

“I am very happy to be in Russia on such an important day,” said Puyol. “The FIFA World Cup is the greatest gathering of fans from all over the world and celebration of football. I can’t compare my experience there to anything else in my life. One of the nicest things I saw was the joy felt by the volunteers. Some of them were working with our team, at the training base or at the stadiums. They bring a very nice spirit of celebration, friendship and solidarity. I really appreciated having them around and was thankful to them for their support and kindness.”

The volunteer movement is gaining ground in Russia and the recently-launched campaign promises to be the largest in the country's history. Some of those involved have already begun to discover the values of volunteering and have spoken about their experiences.

“This was an opportunity to put my ideas into practice and get to know so many lovely people,” revealed Anastasiya Kulyagina, an active member of the FIFA World Cup Volunteer Centre in Volgograd. “However, the main thing I realised is that volunteering is really close to my heart. Of course, the process requires a lot of effort but every single event inspires and stimulates you. It's great!”

As part of the day’s celebrations, FIFA Partners and Sponsors also showed their excitement about and commitment to the Volunteer Programme. Coca-Cola, Gazprom and BUD Alcohol Free helped encourage potential volunteers to register through a range of social media initiatives. McDonald’s used the event to educate guests on how to work with people with disabilities, while staff and volunteers were seen wearing sporting uniforms from adidas, who will be designing the official volunteer uniform for both the Confederations Cup and World Cup tournaments.

The Volunteer Programme plans to involve around 5,500 volunteers for the Confederations Cup in 2017, while 15,000 will take part in the organisation of the first World Cup to be held on Russian soil. Applications will be accepted until the end of 2016. The recruitment, selection and training of volunteers will take place in 15 centres across all 11 host cities. All applicants, including from outside the World Cup host cities and from abroad will go through the process online. Candidates must be over 18, speak English and possess great team skills.

Volunteers were once again the centre of attention later in the evening, as Volunteer Centre members took part in a charity match at Moscow's Spartakovets Stadium. The volunteers played against a team called “Starko”, composed of Russian politicians and artists. The volunteers team was strengthened by FIFA President Gianni Infantino, Carles Puyol, Zvonimir Boban, newly-appointed Russia 2018 ambassador and ex-Russia captain Alexei Smertin, LOC chairman and Russian sports minister Vitaly Mutko and LOC CEO Alexey Sorokin. The match ended in a goalless draw.

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